ESPN is currently running a feature looking at the 50 most painful losses in NCAA history. Naturally, The Play is one such loss. The combination of the miracle finish and sheer bizarre nature of said finish is enough to make any Stanford fan continually cringe. However, ESPN ranked The Play as the 20th most painful outcome in college football history.
I'd imagine part of the reason it's not higher is because it didn't decide a national championship or some other high stakes outcome. However, it did prevent John Elway from earning a berth in a bowl game during his career at Stanford. And again I say, the sheer bizarre nature of it might never be matched.
Cal's worst loss after the jump.
ESPN went through and determined the most painful loss for each individual team. For Cal, they decided the worst loss to be the 23-17 loss to USC back in 2004. Aaron Rodgers tied the NCAA record for consecutive completions but could not get Cal in the end zone at the end of the game. This ended up as Cal's only loss on the season, and they were hosed out of a Rose Bowl appearance by the bitter campaigning of Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns.